Agam, a contemporary Carnatic rock act from the city was recently asked by Nandan Nilekani’s (Congress) team to perform at one of their rallies. The band politely declined.
“Our members subscribe to various political ideologies. So it didn’t make sense to perform for one particular party. Each one of us has strong political views. But we’d rather not air them in our public lives as musicians,” Harish Sivaramakrishnan, vocalist of the band, said.
This seems to be the view of many musicians. While most of them have strong political views, they are not particularly keen on canvassing through music.
“We want to let our music take precedence over all else,” Harish explained.
Swarathma, one of Bangalore’s most popular ‘folk ‘bands, has not been asked to play at any campaign rally. Vasu Dixit, the band’s frontman, talks about the difficulty of finding a party to support.
“We already have a song ‘Topiwalleh’ that basically describes how most politicians take the general public for a ride,” he said.
The Raghu Dixit Project is more open to performing at campaign rallies, irrespective of the political party.
“We’d treat it like any other gig. At the end of the day, we’re musicians and this is our job. It doesn’t mean we endorse a particular party over the other, no matter what our personal political leaning,” Gaurav Vaz, bass guitarist of the band, said.
While Gaurav himself is partial towards the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Raghu is also a supporter and they believe in some of AAP’s ideologies, even if they don’t campaign for that party in public.
Gaurav felt that there is a lot of work for the ruling party to get started with, once they come into power.
“First of all, we just hope someone with common sense takes over this country. Bangalore feels likes school these days---the deadlines, the blanket bans.... As artistes, our livelihoods depend on venues being open,” he said.
According to Gaurav, multiple taxes and long-winded licensing processes are harming the entertainment business.
“If you want to organise a simple event in this city, there are at least 11 to 12 permissions you need to get. And that means bribing 12 different government departments. That’s no way to run a country,” an exasperated Gaurav exclaimed.
The Raghu Dixit Project members also identify themselves with a number of causes. “Recently, for example, we tied up with Rang De, a micro-finance firm that gives out loans to marginalised people,” he said.
Swarathma describes itself as a socially conscious band. “We write songs about things that we see around us every day. Being a folk rock band goes beyond just making folk sounding songs. Folk also means people, it also means a society. In the older days, folk songs originated from the daily lives of people like farmers, blacksmiths, housewives who wrote socially relevant songs,” explained Vasu.
The band has written songs about the Cauvery water dispute (Pyaasi), child sexual abuse (Ghum), and corrupt politicians (Topiwalleh).
Vasu also hoped that the 1 am extension to the weekend deadline stays even after the elections are over. He felt people are now mature enough to handle themselves at the 1 am deadline and make sure that they don’t drink and drive.
“We also need more venues - places like Palace Grounds that is now banned to bands. Palace Grounds was an excellent venue and has seen so many great international artistes performing on its premises. It’s sad that they had to take the venue away from us, citing traffic issues,” Vasu regretted.
Youngsters on the block, Clown With a Frown are not happy with the political system. “We don’t want to align ourselves with any political party, because as representatives of today’s youth, we want to make sure we put across the idea that we don’t believe in today’s political parties,” Pramod Pratap, drummer of the funk rock outfit, said.
Their song ‘Dirty Paradise’ taks about how the once beautiful garden city has now fallen prey to the greedy ways of politicians. “We’ve slowly lost faith in the political system of our country. There’s surely a better way to do things,” Pramod said.